Counting down with our Favorite 50, 30 through 21 are up next
Back in the early stages of site development, an idea came up among staff to compile a list of our favorite games released since the turn of the century (prior to August 2011) as one of our launch articles. When the original release date never came about, the project fell by the wayside and was largely forgotten. Now though, we’ve brought it back and will be sharing it with our readers over the next couple of days - Press2Reset‘s Favorite 50.
While most Top 50 lists boast market research, discussion, and analysis, we didn’t do any of that. Instead we all just voted for our personal favorites and compiled a list based on the results. It’s not about what we thought marked the turning points in gaming history, it’s about what games we enjoyed most as gamers. If you don’t see a title you liked especially, let us know. Someone may even check it out and write a Retro Review on the title.
30. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (Mac/PC/PS2/Xbox)
What do Rockstar, John Hughes, and Prince have in common? They are among the very few who have managed to make the 80s look cool. The tale of Tommy Vercetti’s rise from con to kingpin manages to be both a compelling and serious story while also being a hilarious parody of the decade of excess.
While the gameplay doesn’t stray far from the GTA III formula, the missions were more creative and memorable. I will never forget driving one-armed Phil (who was two-armed Phil about a minute earlier) to the hospital after taking a long swig from whatever was in his swill or making like Keanu and driving Vice City’s own hairband, Lovefist, around in a limo with a bomb strapped to it that will detonate if the speedometer drops below a certain speed. It is a testament to the missions and characters in what may very well be Rockstar’s magnum opus that I could keep on raving and recollecting despite not having played Vice City since shortly after release.
~ J. Seifried
29. Red Dead Redemption (360/PS3)
They say the West was won on the backs of hard-working men. In Red Dead Redemption all it takes is a gun, a scalping knife, and a determined cowboy named John Marston. Red Dead Redemption is a must-play and takes western games to new heights. It is not only one of the most addictive and enjoyable games this side of the Mississippi, but also has a deep and immersive campaign. You can hunt, gamble, and shoot your way through both single and multiplayer modes. It raised the bar for all western and sandbox games in general. Saddle up with RDR and ride into the sunset with an amazing game; one that dueled its way on to our list.
~ Randy Lamberson
28. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (GCN)
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is one of my favorite GameCube titles ever. Developed by Silicon Knights, it offers tight controls, a compelling storyline through different time eras, 12 playable characters, multiple combat types, and a magick system that is deep and unique. However, what really stood out were the crazy sanity effects used to enhance the gameplay. Effects such as the sounds of women and children screaming, walls and ceilings bleeding, the volume lowering only to be accompanied by a fake TV volume indicator on the screen, or my personal favorite, the blue screen of death making an appearance. Eternal Darkness sits on our list because we would be insane if it didn’t.
~ Randy Lamberson
27. Dead Space 2 (360/PC/PS3)
I spent a lot of time with Isaac Clarke on the Sprawl. A lot. In fact, probably too much. Once I had started playing this game, I couldn’t stop to save my life. It was everything I wanted in an action horror title; a scary story wrapped in great controls, stunning graphics, and near-flawless sound design. I was so obsessed that I played through the campaign six straight times. The only thing that pulled me away from the game at all was the death of my Xbox 360. When it happened, I joked that the game’s discs were a representation of ‘the Marker’ itself and that it possessed my mind and corrupted my console. Now, it is months later, and after recently playing it and getting hooked once again, I’m starting to think that my assumptions are true. I can see the symbols.
~ Tony Zuniga
26. Suikoden V (PS2)
A prince exiled and a Rune to control the Sun’s power. Political intrigue, war, and a guild of assassins hellbent on your demise. These are only a fraction of what awaits you in Suikoden V.
Perhaps the most emotionally charged title from the Suikoden series, the fifth installment tells an intricate story and provides wonderful gameplay. With three different battle modes, players have some great variety in how they tackle the enemy. Each of the 108 characters has a background and unique personality that really fleshes out the world around you as well. Though this isn’t the first of the series I’ve finished, it does stand out most in my mind as the pinnacle of the Suikoden family.
~ Marc Lynch
25. Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)
Super Smash Bros. Brawl continued the Smash series with a larger roster, as well as throwing in some extra levels and stage-building. A few fan-favorites made their debut in Brawl, along with many familiar faces from previous installments.
Brawl did something else new with the series that really set it apart from the others. The adventure mode, The Subspace Emissary, allowed players to travel through the world of Smash while playing as each of the many characters that are available throughout the game. While the online multiplayer option is a nice touch, it really shines when you’re playing at home with a few friends.
~ Marc Lynch
24. Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)
Anyone who thinks that video games can’t be a work of art has never played Shadow of the Colossus. It is simply a masterpiece. With its amazing art direction, story, music, and overall feel, SOTC evoked emotions in me I didn’t even know I had and really connected me to the characters.
You play as Wander who enters a forbidden land traveling across a vast expanse on his trusty steed Argo, defeating sixteen massive beings known as Colossi in order to restore the life of a girl named Mono. The boss battles are truly epic in scale and beauty. From the fights with the Colossi to exploring the world to just sitting back and gazing at the breathtaking visuals, SOTC is one of my all-time favorite games and truly a must have on our list.
~ Randy Lamberson
23. Xenosaga: Episode I (PS2)
I love a good story and Xenosaga has one of the best I have ever experienced. Who doesn’t love a great space drama? Sure it’s a little confusing at times, but the characters are easy to love and hard to let go of – not to mention that the game is absolutely stunning. It pushed the PS2 to its limits and then just kept going.
Episode 1 is arguably the best in the trilogy. It’s like watching a movie that you get to control. I will never forget the many nights where I would play and play, telling myself one more scene, one more scene, and before I knew it seven hours had passed. These characters, this story, their relationships were just something I couldn’t get enough of. As if that wasn’t enough, the gameplay was a blast.
~ Nate Hales
22. Borderlands (360/Mac/PC/PS3)
The first thing that stuck out in my mind when I popped in Borderlands was its slick intro. It was creative, sexy, and simply awesome; especially because during it one of my all-time favorite songs by Cage the Elephant is playing. This really set the stage and got me pumped for what was to come. Once I jumped into the Borderlands world of Pandora, I saw how much personality the game has. Statistical progression, character customization, interesting quest structure, and amazing narrative are all present, but at its core, Borderlands is a shooter that requires speed and precision to dominate the hordes of enemies that stand in between you and your search for a mysterious vault. However, the best part of this game is the four player co-op. Three of my friends and I were able to blast our way through the whole story together with the insane amount of weapons offered, and even after 30 plus hours invested, I still want to return to Pandora.
~ Randy Lamberson
21. Silent Hill 2 (PC/PS2/Xbox)
I’ve never been one to scare easily, so imagine my surprise the night that I woke up in a cold sweat, thankful that the nightmare I just had about being chased by Pyramid Head was just a very bad dream. From the chilling and surprisingly dark story to the grimy, fog filled atmosphere; Silent Hill 2 is delightfully terrifying from the long walk to town in the beginning to the surprising revelation near the end.
The gameplay is serviceable and doesn’t stray far from the Resident Evil formula, with ammo being even more scarce and the puzzles being slightly more creative. The gameplay isn’t what lands Silent Hill 2 the #21 spot on our list though. It is the incredible tension you feel knowing that Pyramid Head is right on your heels in an apartment stairwell or knowing from that infernal radio static that something is lurking in the darkness but not knowing what or where it is. I can’t end this write-up without mentioning that this masterpiece in horror also features one of the most shocking, disturbing scenes in videogames. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, you will just have to play the game yourself to find out.
~ J. Seifried